On Saturday, 1 April, the official private viewing of the major exhibition “Frank Quitely: The Art of Comics” opened in Glasgow’s iconic Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.
Under the shadow of the magnificent Victorian organ in the cavernous central hall, around two hundred special invitees gathered to hear Frank Quitely – Vincent Deighan to his family and friends – tell everyone why this was such an important milestone for him. Typically unassuming in a pair of dark jeans and equally dark plain sweater, during the opening speeches he told us of how he had regularly visited the Art Gallery as a youth and student, and how, truth be told, no one had thought comics held much promise as a career path, although they were supportive and tight-lipped for the most part.
This was perhaps an opportunity for Frank to boast about his successes, of how he had proved people wrong. But that’s not who Frank Quitely/Vincent Deighan is. He, instead, saw it as a lesson for others: to follow your own path, to make the best of your talents. In short, he wanted the exhibition to inspire others.
And, boy, does it deliver on that hope. The exhibition itself is remarkable. Quitely’s painstakingly detailed art looks made-to-measure for garage door sized reproductions, of which there are many. Separate themed rooms traced his career, with the first corridor contextualising Quitely in Scottish literature, especially the comic strips of Dundee’s DC Thomson. This section was especially illuminating, the link between Oor Wullie seated on his bucket and the many images of a seated Superman, Batman or another character recurring again and again in his work. Other rooms housed his work for DC or collaborations with Grant Morrison and Mark Millar. You could view his roughs, pencil layouts, and finished art together, his phenomenal story-telling abilities evident even with the lightest of outlines.
While the Millarworld exhibition in the Glasgow Print Studio in 2015 was impressive, and some of the art shown there reappeared in the Kelvingrove, this is on a completely different scale. If you think this exhibition is just a re-run, you’re wildly off base and in for a treat. This is much more ambitious and is a fitting tribute to one of Glasgow’s most successful exports of the new millennium.
If you had been thinking about visiting Glasgow and had been putting it off, sometime this year before the exhibition closes on 1 October would be a perfect time to come. Heck, even if you hate Glasgow or are trying to avoid your crazy ex-wife, this is worth coming to the city for.
Under 3’s get in for free, children up to 16 are £3, and adults are £7 (£5 with concession). Family tickets are on offer for £15.
Tickets, which are on sale now, can be booked online at www.glasgowmuseums.com or, by phone, on 0141 353 8000.